Some places just seem to have a special penchant for gardening, horticulture, and civic beautification. When I say special, I mean really special. And sometimes really special is more like truly spectacular.
In the spirit of Memorial Day and the beginning of summer, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the very best "gardening towns" in the US and Canada. For anyone with a special interest in community beautification, these are must-visit destinations. I have been fortunate to visit a few of them, and look forward to experiencing more in the future.
So please enjoy the pictures and the descriptions! They are in no particular order and I have tried to include a good mix of East, West, North, and South. To me, being an armchair tourist is somewhat addicting! If you have been to any of these places--or have another "great gardening town" nomination(s), please feel free to comment below! Happy Memorial Day, Happy Summer, and as always, Happy Gardening!
1) Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Sometimes called "The Prettiest Town in Canada," the above pictures definitely suggest a hefty degree of prettiness. Hefty indeed. Situated on Lake Ontario, quite near to Niagara Falls, this beautifully landscaped town is a true gardening community if there ever was one. Beautiful Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial, and newer styles of architecture makes this an attractive town regardless of what's blooming out front. Unfortunately, I have yet to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake but a few of my family members have been and they continue to rave about its unique charm and show-stopping beauty. If you are ever bored and cannot make it to Ontario personally, go ahead and explore this little lakefront village via Google Street-View for some great landscaping inspiration. You will be amazed at the number of high-quality gardens at houses, businesses, and public spaces.
2) Buffalo, New York
That's right, Buffalo--a gardening town. Who would have ever guessed? A grassroots movement called Garden Walk Buffalo is in the process of transforming this once-rusty lakefront city into a haven for amateur gardeners, and is catching the attention of the entire American gardening community in the process. The movement has become so large that an entire event of the same name (Garden Walk Buffalo) is dedicated to it. For more information about this tantalizing community-based effort, visit gardenwalkbuffalo.com.
3) Brooklyn, New York
Surprised? Yes, Brooklyn is a surprisingly beautiful borough despite its overly popularized, relatively false image. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of friendly competition to get us East Coasters riled up. In Brooklyn, a program sponsored by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (a magnificent place, by the way) called "Greenest Block" aims to identify the most-extensively landscaped block each summer. After several years of the program, the competition has become quite fierce. If you are visiting The City and are interested in checking out some of these small yet powerful gardens, some of the best are clustered in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Flatbush, and believe it or not, Bed-Stuy. For more information, visit bbb.org.
4) Natchez, Mississippi
If you like azaleas, you will like Natchez. Every year in April, the gorgeously well-preserved antebellum city of Natchez is ablaze in azalea blooms--as well evidenced by the above pictures. Along the so-called "Azalea Trail," one can observe stunning plantings of azaleas at beautiful, historic houses in a charming, friendly community. The attraction is so large, it has come to be known as the "Spring Pilgrimage" and coincides with numerous other events such as concerts, presentations, and performances.
5) Vernal, Utah
It has been said that Vernal has America's most beautiful Main Street. The above picture literally has flower planters fading into the horizon. This project is part of the fast-growing, much-acclaimed America in Bloom program which encourages towns across the country to beautify their communities by way of civic landscaping. What a concept. While you are in Vernal, go ahead and visit Dinosaur Land!
I could go on and on--there is no shortage of "gardening towns" in North America, but I will save them for another blog post later this summer when I have more time to write. If you just cannot wait, you can go ahead and do some of your own investigation for some of the places below:
--Quebec City, Quebec
--Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
--Nantucket, Massachusetts including the rose-covered village of Siasconset (simply called 'Sconset)
--Charleston, South Carolina